I had a novel idea
By Jay Fralick on September 15, 2010
I took a week off from forking over my cash to the theater partially in protest of the extra cost for seeing Resident Evil in 3D. I’m not going to pay the extra and they weren’t showing it in 2D. While looking at options for a post, I heard the news about the adaptation of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King into several films and a television series. Roland will walk somewhere other than my mind’s eye (*girlish squeal and happy dance*). That being said, I wanted to talk about my favorite film adaptations from novels, skipping graphic novels, video games and all other adaptations. I also want to hear from you on your favorite adaptations (no restrictions on you).
I’ll be honest; I’m probably going to be all over the place on this, as my mind is already on my vacation next week celebrating nine years of marriage to a wonderful woman.
Now, on to the show. In no particular order are some of my favorite adaptations from novel to film.
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk’s diatribe against consumerism, masculinity and the status-quo blew my mind. I didn’t realize that it was okay to write like that. I had always believed conventional, linear narrative was the only way to sell books, but, a few years out of high school; that all changed. Three years later, the same story rocked my movie-going world as well, propelling David Fincher from former video director who nailed it with Se7en, to a filmmaker that I must watch.
It wasn’t long after I saw Fight Club that a friend loaned me a book by an author unfamiliar to me. The author’s name – Bret Easton Ellis; the novel and film – American Psycho. Ellis gave us the journey of an investment banker’s descent into madness. If I thought Fight Club was non-linier, the random thoughts of Ellis’ Patrick Bateman allowed me to consider experiencing the world from any number of skewed viewpoints. This was the first film where I remember Christian Bale, taking specific note of his ability to portray someone who is passionate about some things yet unfeeling toward people. I was most fascinated by the fact that this film was directed by a female director since so many women spoke out against the source material and the way it treats violence toward women.
In all fairness, I had to read this for film class. Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. This novel was adapted into the film Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze. I enjoyed The Orchid Thief much more that I expected I would. It is a well written story about her experiences with John Laroche. I love the meta aspect of the film. The film is about Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt the novel into the film that is going on. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s okay. You’ll understand if you have seen another Spike Jonze film Being John Malkovich.
An adaptation where I didn’t enjoy the source, but love the film is Boileau-Narcejac’s D’entre les morts which translates as The Living and the Dead. You know the film as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Vertigo is Hitchcock’s masterpiece is about a retired police detective who suffers from a terrible fear of heights (just like me). James Stewart before he was a punch-line and Kim Novak share better chemistry that most couples that pair on screen these days. I don’t want to talk too much about this one, in the case that someone has not seen it. It may not play well for the ADD enhanced, but this is one of the great ones in my book (still unsure if I intended that pun or not).
I know… where is the LOTR trilogy, how about Schindler’s List, Jaws, or The Exorcist, Mr. Horror-fan? LOTR was an important film, based solely on the scale of the production, so it deserves mention. I never read the source novel for Schindler’s List or Jaws. The Exorcist is still the only book that has frightened me, so while I love the film, the book holds a special place in my heart.
Hopefully, one day, a list like this will include The Gunslinger.
What are your favorite adaptations?